World number one Serena Williams wasted little time in swatting aside Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan 6-2, 6-1 on Sunday, setting up an Australian Open quarter-final showdown with Maria Sharapova.
Williams was broken in the first game of the fourth round match, only the second time she had dropped serve in the tournament, before she rattled off the next four games and went on to seal the set in 30 minutes.
The 34-year-old defending champion barely got into second gear against Gasparyan and breezed through the second set to seal the match in less than hour.
Williams has now had three relatively straightforward matches after being pushed by Camila Giorgi in the first round, and should be well rested when she faces Sharapova, who she beat in last year’s final.
Sharapova served up a storm to slap down teenage firebrand Belinda Bencic 7-5, 7-5 and become the first woman through to the quarter-finals.
The 2008 champion fired 21 aces in her most impressive serving performance of the tournament to keep the rising Swiss at bay in the early match at Rod Laver Arena.
Biding her time before breaking the 18-year-old in the 12th game of each set, Sharapova sealed the tie on the second match point with a sizzling backhand that clipped the baseline, before squealing in delight towards the crowd. theguardian.com
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